Jordan is the first Arabic country I’ve ever set foot on, not counting all the transits I’ve done in Dubai Airport. I went to Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board. I visited quite a few places during the trip – Amman, As-Salt, The Dead Sea, Petra, and Wadi Rum.
My time in Jordan was absolutely amazing. It was everything I hoped it would be – I tried food I have never heard of, checked off two items from my travel bucket list (Petra and the Dead Sea), learned plenty about Bedouin culture and gained insights on Arabic culture firsthand from locals.
So on this post I’d like to impart that knowledge with you!
Should I join a tour in Jordan?
Joining a tour
Normally I’m a fan of traveling on my own, but Jordan is a country where you will greatly benefit from a local’s insights, so I must recommend joining a tour while you’re here. There is so much cultural context you can learn by having a local with you.
I recommend Jordan Allure Tours, the one I personally used when I was in Jordan. The tour is run by Ramzi, my tour guide who is a native of Wadi Musa, the town where Petra is located.
Joining a Jordanian tour also means your tourist visa fee of 40 JOD will be waived if you’re holding a passport from non-restricted countries (those who can obtain a visa on arrival). You can check the visa fees and requirements here.
If you decide to not join a tour
Get a car rental and drive – I understand if tours are really not for you, but I still recommend renting a car and drive yourself around. In Amman, it’s easy to catch a taxi but once you get out of the city, it won’t be easy to go around in Jordan without a car. I think it’s possible to catch public buses but to make good use of your time, then you definitely need to drive.
The Jordan Pass – If you are planning to visit Petra and attractions in Jordan, this might be a great way to save up. The main draw of this pass is that your tourist visa fee (which costs 40 JOD) is also waived if you’ve purchased the pass before arrival to Jordan and staying for at least 4 days in the country.
Jordan Travel Tips
Dress appropriately – although Jordan is a liberal country, it is still respectful to dress modestly while you’re here.
Buy a prepaid SIM card at the airport or in town – Zain is the major telco in Jordan. Data is affordable and SIM card can be easily purchased at any Zain store. You can check the price list here. Keep in mind you need an unlocked phone for this SIM to work.
Getting a Taxi from Airport – Taxi to Amman is a fixed price of JOD 22 – about US$31. However, if you prefer having someone pick you up, you can pre-book an airport transfer here.
If you are visiting on a Friday, some traditional markets and shops might be closed during prayer time, as Friday is a holy day in the
Is Jordan Safe?
Short answer: yes, absolutely.
Let me elaborate:
Jordan borders Syria and Iraq, probably the two most antagonized countries in the 21st century. But, Jordan itself has always been a peaceful kingdom.
When I received the invitation from the Jordan Tourism Board, I did not hesitate to go at all. I did hide it from my family though – I only told them I was flying alone to Jordan mere hours before the flight was scheduled to take off. That conversation did not go well, but I went on the trip anyway and… spoiler alert, I was fine!
I can honestly say I have never felt threatened in the entire time in Jordan, even while I was walking by myself or walking around the city (jetlag hit me hard, so I went on a morning walk in Amman). I did get a few stares but I think that had more to do with the fact that I had turquoise hair at that time.
There had been a few small scale terrorist attacks in Jordan since 2016. I say you would run the same risk visiting major cities like London or Paris, which had also been subjected to terrorist attack in recent years.
Exercise common sense and always be vigilant. Chances are you’ll be fine.
What should I eat in Jordan?
I’m glad you asked, cause I have a whole post on Jordanian food here. Expect to have delicious falafels, hummus, tender meat with amazing spices, and more!
8 Days in Jordan Itinerary
Okay, now that we got the important stuff out of the way – here is my 8 days in Jordan itinerary:
- Day 1-2: Arrive in Amman and explore the city
- Day 3: As-Salt – Day Trip from Amman
- Day 4: Go to the dead sea
- Day 5: Dana Nature Reserve
- Day 6: Petra, The Rose City
- Day 7: Wadi Rum, The Desert of Jordan
- Day 8: Drive back to Amman and fly out
And as usual (because I know someone will ask this question :D) All photos are taken with iPhone, unless noted otherwise.
Day 1 : Arrive in Amman
On the first day, arrive in Amman and settle down to your accommodation. Since this is your first day in Jordan, I recommend taking it easy. The area I would highly recommend exploring today is Jabal (mountain) Amman, a heritage district in Amman located on top of a hill that can be explored on foot.
Rainbow Street is a very nice area to walk around in the historic area of Jabal Amman. This street is filled with cafes, restaurants and pubs.
I recommend checking out Al Quds Falafel for the BEST falafel sandwich you’d ever have, which is also the only item on the menu of this small stall. I wasn’t even feeling too hungry and I told Ramzi (my guide) that I was only going to eat half, but once I tasted the falafel sandwich, I knew I had to finish it.
I also recommend trying Gerard Ice Cream down the street if you still have some space. I recommend trying the Arabic flavor if they have it, which consists of crumbled pistachio and gum arabic made from acacia tree sap. The pistachio gave an amazing texture that really compliments the fragrance of gum arabic.
You can also visit Souk Jara, if you are there on a Friday. Souk Jara is an open-air flea market where you can find local product made by local artists. Another option is
Wild Jordan Center
From Rainbow Street, Wild Jordan Center is just a short walk away. Wild Jordan is a cultural center that doubles as a restaurant, but the best part of this place is that it’s perched on top of a cliff and from the roof, you get a really nice overview of the Amman Citadel!
Dinner at Fakhreldin
Fakhreldin serves Lebanese cuisine in a very cozy yet elegant restaurant. If you feel like you’re stepping into someone’s house, that’s because you are! The restaurant ground used to be a house. It was originally built and constructed during the mid 20th century’s golden era by one of the Prime Ministers of Jordan before being turned into a restaurant in 1997.
At Fakhreldin, I had the Mezze appetizer and mixed grill as mains. Mezze consists of small dishes to taste, sort of like tapas in Spain, and I basically tasted everything that was put in front of me, including a really creamy Hummus and a dish of chicken liver with molasses – my personal fav. By the way, I love the concept of Mezze so much I had to write a dedicated post about it.
Where to stay in Amman
La Locanda Boutique Hotel is a great option for Amman. I stayed here in the entire 3 days that I was in Amman. The hotel is conveniently located, breakfast was great and there is a convenience store down the street. Also, their breakfast was delicious!
Day 2: Explore Amman City
Today, we will take the time to explore more of Amman! You’ll see all the sights, cultural center and museums at the capital of Jordan.
Breakfast at Shams El Balad or Hashem Restaurant
Start your day off with a breakfast at Shams El Balad or Hashem. Both are vegetarian restaurants serving traditional Jordanian fare that are well-loved by locals.
Shams El Balad feels more modern upscale with its trendy location, whereas Hashem feels a bit more modest. But don’t be fooled – Hashem is the oldest restaurant in Jordan and loved by the Jordanian royalties as well.
After breakfast, make your way to the Amman Citadel, a historical site located in the center of downtown Amman. You might not be expecting to see Roman structures here, at least I wasn’t, but that’s exactly what you’ll find here at the Amman Citadel.
The Citadel dated back to the days of Roman occupation over Amman in 162AD. You can explore the Temple of Hercules ruins, which includes some impressive Roman columns and a marble remnant of
Amman Citadel has been inhabited by many different cultures, including the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire, evidenced by the ruins of a Byzantine Church that was built in 550 AD.
You’ll also get to explore Ummayad Palace, a large palace complex built over the Roman structure, which is thought to have been built in 724-743 AD during the reign of Umayyad Caliph Hisham.
If you are interested more on artifacts and archeological sites found in Jordan, you can also go into
At the foot of the Citadel is an impressive Roman Theater, yet another remnant of the Roman period in Amman. This theater was built in the 2nd century when the city was known as Philadelphia and seats about 6,000 people. Nowadays, the amphitheater is still used for concerts and other musical events.
Al Balad / Downtown Amman
From the Theater / Citadel area, you can walk to downtown Amman, the traditional market area in Amman where you can find anything. If you are visiting on a Friday though, shops might be closed during prayer time.
I recommend using this Al-Balad Walk-around Itinerary by Visit Jordan, the official Jordan Tourism Board, as a guide. The itinerary includes a visit to Gold Souq and Habibah Sweets (try their Knafeh!)
Dinner at Shawarma Street
Shawarma Wrap is yet another middle eastern cuisine that is so delicious that it has been adopted all over the world. Shawarma is made by stacking slices of meat and fat onto a vertical spit, which will rotate and grill the meat for long hours – sometimes even an entire day. Once it is ready, the meat is shaved off with a large knife and collected at the bottom of the spit, before being made into a delicious wrap with onion, fresh vegetable, and Tahini sauce.
The Shawarma Street at Al-Fadl Ben Al-Hasan St on the 7th circle is popular among locals. It takes a bit of work to get there, about 20 minutes by car from downtown Amman, but if you want to see a real local scene then it’s worth it. This street consists of tiny shawarma stalls, with the most popular being Reem and Bashka.
Nafisa Sweets at 7th Circle
If you decide to come out to the Shawarma street, then make sure you stop by Nafisa too! Nafisa is a famous Arabic sweet shop, and the one thing to get here is Knafeh, a Syrian dessert made with cheese and ground cashew and pistachio. This one is a real show-stopper, especially if you happen to catch a fresh batch. They are baked daily on the spot.
There are clear windows where you can watch all the action in the kitchen from outside of the shop, so it makes the trip super fun.
Day 3: Day Trip from Amman to As-Salt or Jerash
Now that we’ve explored Amman, it’s time to get out of the city for a bit. For a day trip, I recommend visiting either As-Salt or Jerash. If you loved the Roman ruins at the citadel, you’ll want to check out Jerash. But if you want to see more market and Jordanian culture, you can head to As-Salt.
I went to As-Salt to explore the markets. As-Salt, sometimes referred to as just Salt, is an ancient city just an hour away from Amman. It used to be the regional capital during the days of the Ottoman Empire, serving as the trading hub. Nowadays, you can enjoy visiting the traditional souks (market) for some food, shopping, and handicrafts. It’s very doable to make this a day trip from Jordan.
You can visit Abu Jaber Museum to learn about the history of As-Salt. It is a small museum, so it won’t take you long to get through. From there, the Hammam Street Market is within walking distance, where you can get lost and wander around for a few hours.
Day 4: The Dead Sea
You cannot visit Jordan without dipping your feet at The Dead Sea. The beach area accessible to tourists is only an hour away from Amman by car.
Most of the beach is lined up by five-star resorts, but if you don’t want to stay in these resorts, you can go to one of the public beaches. They charge an entrance fee from 8-20 JOD per person. However, I’ve read mixed reviews about the public beaches as it tends to be dirty and the facilities are not great. If you are only planning to stay for a few hours, then the public beach is probably ok, but if you’re planning to stay for an entire day, then booking a resort might be your best bet.
Whichever option you choose, here are some tips and what to expect at the dead sea:
- The feeling of floating on the ocean was a strange feeling, but great! You don’t have to try very hard to stay afloat and it feels like you are lying on top of a pool
- You probably won’t be staying in the water too long, since the water is extremely salty. For me, I found that my skin started getting tingly and itchy after about 5 minutes.
- If you are at the resort, they might have the dead sea mud ready for you to apply to your skin. Try this! The minerals contained in the mud is supposed to be very beneficial for your skin.
- Wash off right after you get out before using the towels, or else you’ll find salt in your towel later on.
Where to stay in The Dead Sea
I stayed at Kempinski Ishtar Dead Sea, which was such an amazing (and massive!) resort. There are multiple pools, luxurious spas, and a private section to the dead sea just for resort guest. And of course, their facilities are top notch.
Day 5: Dana Biosphere Nature Reserve
From the Dead Sea, continue your way down south. We made a slight detour into the mountains to visit Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan’s biggest nature reserve at 308 square kilometers. Dana stands out as it houses a large diversity of plants, birds, and mammals.
If you love nature, you’re in for a treat. We stayed in Dana for camping – although personally, I would call this “glamping” since the camps are already built and there are even beds inside. You can hike around the nature reserve or visit Dana Village, which is said to have been occupied since 4000 BC.
Where to stay in Dana
Rummana Campsite is where I stayed in Dana Nature Reserve on the mountains. Both the nature reserve and the drive up there was absolutely beautiful! You cannot park your car near the camps as it is inside the nature reserve, but you can leave it at the visitor center. The staff of the campsite will pick you up from there.
Day 6: Petra, the Rose City
Finally, the site of what Jordan is best known for – Petra the Rose City. The Nabatean ancient city Petra has become the ultimate symbol of Jordan, and it’s really no surprise why – everything there was majestic. It looked like I was in a set of an Indiana Jones movie! Well, actually, I wasn’t too far off – Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade WAS filmed here!
I checked off my second Jordan bucket list here, which is to see The Treasury (Al-Khazneh). To get here, you first walk the 1.2km long Siq, a narrow gorge that serves as the entrance to Petra. I was brimming with anticipation, and at about 20 minutes in I started to wonder if we were ever going to get there.
But Ramzi, my tour guide, was one hell of a guide and he knew how to build up the excitement. That reveal of The Treasury at the end of the Siq was magical! This is why I recommend going with him at Jordan Allure Tours. The walk would have been just another regular walk if it wasn’t for him.
Another must-see at Petra is The Monastery (Ad Deir). This one takes a bit more work to get to as it’s located almost at the end of the city, but it’s worth it! It’s a LOT larger than the treasury. You can see the scale of it from this photo below – I’m somewhere in the photo in case you didn’t notice!
I recommend spending two days here because the place is massive and there are so much to see in Petra.
Petra is only open from 6 am and closes at 6 pm. However, you can come back and visit Petra by Night for a view of the treasury, lit by candlelight. Petra by Night is held every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 to 10:30 PM. The ticket costs 17 JOD.
Where to stay in Petra
Petra is located near a town called Wadi Musa, and that is where all the accommodations and restaurants are located. Staying overnight inside the Petra area itself is illegal, so please do not attempt that. It would be a very stupid way to get yourself into trouble.
Mövenpick Resort Petra was where I stayed and it really doesn’t get any better than this hotel in terms of location. It is literally right across the entrance of Petra, which makes it very convenient if you plan to come back and see Petra at night.
Day 7: Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum is a desert filled with sandstones that are taller than some of the skyscrapers in Singapore. Due to the extreme terrain that makes it look extraterrestrial, it was chosen to be the set for movies like The Martian and Lawrence of Arabia.
In Wadi Rum, you can take a desert tour which takes you on a 4WD around the desert. I highly recommend this, since it’s not really possible to see the desert otherwise – you definitely cannot walk or take a regular vehicle.
One of the stops at the tour was a Camel camp, and I was so amused as it was only the second time I’ve ever seen a camel (first time being at Uluru, Australia)
I also highly recommend going a camel ride to see the sunset. The sunset in the desert was absolutely beautiful. Be careful when going on a camel ride though, make sure you maintain your balance so you don’t get thrown off the camel (like Liz did). I, fortunately, did not get thrown off but there were moments where I felt like I could have fallen off too!
Where to stay in Wadi Rum
Captain’s Desert Camp is such a cool accommodation. You get to stay in a traditional Bedouin-style camp in the middle of the desert. They also do BBQ at night, and even cooked Zarb, a Bedouin BBQ cooked underground, which was one of my most memorable meals in Jordan.
Day 8: Drive Back to Amman and fly out
And finally, your stay in Jordan has come to an end. The drive back to Amman from Wadi Rum took approximately 4 hours, so keep this in mind when booking your flight.
My flight was at midnight, so I stayed at a hotel near the airport for a little while before flying out. I had a terrible experience at the hotel though, so I am not going to recommend staying there. If you have more time before your flight like me, I suggest visiting Amman again to see anything you might have missed.
I wish I had more time in Jordan
Will 8 days be enough in Jordan? definitely not. I mean, I did get to see the best of Jordan in the 8 days that I was there, but it felt rushed and I missed out on things like Jerash and visiting the red sea.
If I were to have a do-over, I would have extended my stay to at least 12 days. Here are some places I would visit, in addition to the itinerary above:
- Aqaba (1 day) – I love diving and I have heard so much about the red sea, so this is definitely on my bucket list.
- Jerash (1 day) – This historical city houses the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy
- Wadi Mujib (1 day) – This site is best known for canyoning and water sports. Totally right up my alley! It’s too bad I had no time, even though we stopped by to see the entrance to the canyoning site. It looked amazing.
- One more day in Petra – I would allocate 2 days in Petra since the site is spread apart and there are just so much to see there.
Looking learn more about Jordan?
Check out my other posts on Jordan:
- Jordan Itinerary: Trip of a lifetime in 8 Days
- Mezze experience in Jordan
- Jordanian Cuisine: 16 Traditional Food You Can Find in Jordan
Disclaimer: Although I was invited to Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, all opinion remains solely mine.